Survival

LOVE IS STRAGE PT 3

32nd of Ready’reat- Winterhaven- 1:03am

The sweet musky aroma of love drifted through the room, as Raven filled his lover. She was insatiable, and he was not at all far behind. The two rolled about on the fur rug each playfully wrestling in passionate need to get further inside the other, to be more one, more a part of the other. This would be their forth romp, the wine and two other bottles were long gone, and yet they did not tire, if anything they seemed to feed on each other’s energy. Raven had been surprised at first, he had not expected the gratification, the passion and the need to be so great. He enjoyed Soshana and cared for her deeply but also knew she was inexperienced in the ways of the flesh; today however she performed better than any lover he’d ever experienced. While he had collected wine after their first coupling he had even gone so far as to cast a couple spells to confirm she was indeed Soshana. She was no impostor and he was smitten. They rolled again as he mounted her and began to rut with deep routed passion; he grinned as he heard her cry out in ecstasy her pitch rising by an octave with each successive plunge. Raven closed his eyes enjoying the blissful engagement, allowing the woes of the world to melt away in a singular moment. He opened his eyes as he approached his finish and then noted a queerness. As he thrusted the lights seemed to flicker. He experimented again, thrusting in deeply, the lights in the room dimmed, he withdrew slightly, the room illuminated more fully. ‘That shouldn’t be happening’ he thought, ‘the fire, the candles, they are all magical’ he thrust forth again and once more the room dimmed. His eyes flashed gold as he continued albeit somewhat distracted. As he continued to love her the more with her he was the more the magic in the area seemed to waver. It was magically, emotionally, cosmically the most interesting thing he had ever witnessed; until understanding dawned upon him, and like that he withdrew from her and crawled back quickly examining himself and her. Soshana propped herself up on her elbows looking at him quizzically

“What’s wrong Raven? Why did you stop?” Raven looked at her very seriously before responding

“Sorry, I just need to make sure of something” he said while thinking ‘I need to consider these ramifications ’

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BAYWATCH Pt 3

32nd of Ready’reat – Chistles Point – Deck of the Stubby Narwhale – 4:04am

“Wasn’t sure I was gonna see you boys before we shoved off” George said as he stepped forward shaking the hands of Val Thacoor and Lee -Sun Shikame.

“Well it did take us some digging to get everything sorted, we appreciate your patience in the matter. Where are you off to anyway?” Val asked

“Haven’t you heard my boy? We are fighting a war, all of Kelezandri’s Battle Ships need to report to the Rhône within two weeks, the battle waits for no one man” George said in good humor, the Rogues seasoned eyes watching his men prepare to make way even as he spoke.

“Well, again on behalf of the White Raven’s you have our thanks” Val said turning to leave, he made it half a step before he felt the Captains hand on his shoulder, the grip was firm though not overtly threatening

“Your thanks is most welcome, your intel however is required” George said. Val put a sheepish look on his face and shrugged, both men knew he had to try, and so long as he fessed up now both understood it was good natured. George ushered the two to his cabin offering them seats, once settled it was then that the Val began to speak

“So of the three Dactyls and two dwarves most were petty criminals, gambling debts, drunkards, maybe scrapping… way too small to be considered for a serious hit. One of the dwarves however happened to be a private in the Dwarven Imperials 32nd Dact Hammers, the Grubby Loins Company. It had been his idea to try the attack. Apparently he was in his Corporals bad books and thus thought that this somehow could make things better.” George poured himself a stiff drink while listening, he held the bottle offering it to his guest, Val nodded accepting a shot, Lee-Sun silently refused.

“Why would attacking a White Raven put a loser Private in his Corporals good books?” George asked.

“Good question, one we asked ourselves. When we went to investigate the Corporal, we found he had been transferred to Tukin in a real hurry and was being placed with a contingent heading to the Dwarven Stronghold. All this was done real quietly and only after the Private had been pronounced AWOL and the Corporal interviewed as to why. The person who conducted the interview was Captain J’Hroc a Dactyl with a decent reputation as a man who can get things almost anywhere”

“He is known to me, we’ve had dealings before” George put in

“Anyway he has had a number of sudden meetings with the 32nd’s Colonel, one Narth DoomBitter. It appears, and mind you we are operating off of shaking evidence that the Colonel put it to his men that he had received indication from ‘on high’, whatever that means, that the White Ravens were to be made to feel uncomfortable in Chistles Point, that led to various men in the command interrupting this in different ways” Val stopped and took a sip of his drink as George processed the information.

“That would explain the higher degree of law enforcement wandering Boytano Bay area, and why my non Honalain fellows have been having trouble with them. Who is the Colonel? He must be new if I don’t know him”

“He is, was given command of the 32nd’s just two months ago; not much to tell of him, he is a pretty loyal by the book fellow, but is a bit of a religious nut, huge into Hithilum and Dumathion, has his men bend a knee in respect at the holy hours each day, had a little shrine in his office and at home, even believes the Queen is the Holy incarnation of Hithilum and the only way to heaven” Val said. George leaned back and ran his hand through his hair

“Great, another religious nut in charge, just what this place needs, so what’s the deal then?”

“Best we can figure is that the moon glinted wrong or he dropped a hammer at the wrong time or took a shit and it smelled different and now the bastard thinks the his god wants the White Ravens out of the city.”

“So what’s the play? I don’t need you fellows taking out a Colonel right before a major battle, that’s not where we need to be focused right now” George warned

“Shouldn’t need to come to that… we figure we’ll pass the word on to Raven that this nut has misinterpreted something from his god, he’s super close to the Queen and her family…” the three smiled each having an idea of how close in one particular case. “… we just get him to get the Queen to tell this guy to back off or give him a different sign or whatever. Arthorn is recovering, and the bastards who attacked him are dead, thank you…” he lifted his glass to George who nodded in return “… so I think Raven will be willing to leave it at that” George drained his glass and stood reaching forward and shaking each of their hands again

“It all sound very reasonable, almost too reasonable to be followed” he grinned at the two “It has been a pleasure gentlemen, please let Raven know that Arthorn is welcome down here anytime, and give him my best”

“Of course Rogue,” Val said standing and returning the shake, with that he and Lee-Sun left the cabin and ship while the Stubby Narwhale made way for Rehume and then the Rhône .

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Love is Strange PT 2

31st of Ready’reat – Winterhaven – 9:54pm

Raven was tired, not necessarily physically, he didn’t need sleep, but mentally he was exhausted, the endless stream of paper work that seemed to spew from the bowels of Crane, Pool and Schmit was mind numbing. He had to admit, they seemed to know their trade as a lot of their documents accounted for tiny minutia that any sane person would shrug off. Raven shuddered at the thought of having to back in their at least three more times. He debated briefly going to his forge to relax but thought better of it and started working his way towards the study. Theiraqule had taken him up on his offer to teach him/her of human culture and being, Raven was sure he had a book of the customs and traditions of Tukin, it might be worth studying up and starting there. He paused outside the study for a moment hesitant, the room was slightly warmer, a glow from under the door told him the fire place and maybe a lamp were lit within. He knew the girls were already asleep, his apprentices didn’t stay in the main castle and none of his companions were currently residing in Winter Haven. He took a deep breath reciting the old saying “step one identify the trap, step two…” with that he opened the door.

The study had a warm glow about it, the fire was burning low with a few other candles casting light from the mantel, the book shelves made the room feel more intimate as did the large bear skin rug between the two comfy chairs. There, standing between the chairs; completely nude, holding two glasses of wine stood Soshana. Raven swallowed noticeably before speaking, she was the picture of beauty.

“Soshana, what brings you… ah…. Here” Raven shook the stray thoughts from his head, the fact that this girl, no, this women could tongue tie him made her all the more desirable to him.

“Well, I was talking to Prometheus. He said if you wanted something in this world, and thought it would bring you happiness, you shouldn’t let the little things get into the way” she took a seductive step forward and offered him a glass of wine. Raven took it

“Prometheus is very wise” he said before taking a sip of the wine “but your mother…”

“Mom’s not here right now, the only people I see is you and me… unless you would rather talk about her?” she asked all too innocently. Raven drained his glass

“This is going to cause trouble…” he said as he placed his glass on an end table and took her into his arms and began to kiss her passionately.

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BAYWATCH pt 2

27th of Ready’reat – Narwhale Saloon, Chistles Point – 10:42pm

George Cooper sat back with his feet on the table; as he stretched he took a long slow draw from his pipe as he surveyed the two who sat before him. Val Thacoor and Lee-Sun Shikame sat across from him sipping their ale, both had been dropped off earlier by Gemeni when she had come to pick up Arthorn. The Everlast wished words with the young Arthorn and wanted to personally see to his healing; these two had been sent to replace him during his recovery and to investigate; that was of course assuming that George gave them the nod. Even the White Ravens had the knowhow and respect to gain permission before openly operating in one of his cities.

“So, you’re here to stir up a hornets nest and cause me no end of grief, that about sum it up?” George asked, reaching over for his lucky tankard and taking a long pull. His question was directed at the bearded human named Val

“Not if we can help it my Rogue” the man’s response brought a grin to Georges face, he liked people who did their research and folk who knew how and when to use the right honorific. The man continued “I don’t want to be here any longer than I need to be, but someone targeted one of ours, we have to know who, and why” George nodded to the words as he sat up

“That’s fair, but I have a few conditions for you, these are not negotiable and are a must if you want to wander my city” both men also leaned forward listening to his words “One; Raven Everlast does not end up in Chistles Point looking into this or confronting someone himself. If Raven comes down here, then I will have a Dwarven Queen, and three Avatars and half of Fluid Dynamics and who knows how many heads of state skulking through my streets and generally pissing in my pool. If that happens, I will be forced to take my displeasure at the situation out on you two…. Personally” he made a cutting gesture with his pipe indicating that an ear would be lost, both White Ravens nodded agreeing that it was best if this did not happen. “Second; I want to know everything you find out before you leave my city… as you said, someone out there is starting shit with the White Ravens, and they are doing it in MY city without MY permission, you can have first crack at vengeance, but I want to know WHO and WHY before you leave…” again both men nodded, this had been expected. “Finally; you get caught, or bring down the law, or generally make it known that you in anyway had any dealings with me and mine… well let’s just say you will never make it to trial and leave it at that… is their understanding between us?” the two leaned in and conferred for a moment. George cussed to himself, he had not yet mastered the Wing-Ti language that they spoke in and was forced to rely on magic to eaves drop, a sloppy substitute for the real thing. The two turned to him and nodded the final agreement. George reached forward and offered a hand. “Good on ya fellows…” he shook their hands lifted his tankard and drained it, then stood and nodded to them to follow “I tell ya what, I’m going do ya a favour and give ya a head start, just cause I’m such a wonderful fellow” he walked over to the bar and smiled at the portly dwarven bar tender

“Jessica,” he started his voice full of warmth and a grin on his lips “I’d love to show these fellows your cask room, would ya mind terribly?” he made a show of dancing a silver ingot across his knuckles before flipping it to her. She caught it from the air and turned giving George a sassy smile before speaking

“Anything you want hun, but if I am short so much as a shot I’ll be expensing the entire cask to your ship” George put his hand over his heart feigning hurt feelings

“Jessica, you wound me, I am a Captain in Kelezandri’s great Navy; my days of stealing booze from alehouse storerooms is far behind me.”

“Right…” she said in a tone filled with sarcasm “just know that I know the weight of every bottle and cask… Captain” George turned to the White Ravens shrugging before taking them behind the bar and leading them down the steep steps to the store room. The little cellar was like most alehouse cellars, with large casks against the wall, and shelves with bottles and food stores against the others. George walked to the far wall climbing over to casks and pulling the lid off one behind the others, he waved for the two to follow as he climbed in. the cask was empty and had a ladder inside leading to a secret level below. Here things took on a more dour flavour. The hard stone wall had an inset solid steel door. And a burly looking Honalian sitting in a wooden chair front of it reading a book by candle light, he looked up seeing George coming with company.

“My Rogue,” he said by way of greeting

“How’s our guest doing Norm?” George asked. The Honalian, Norm, closed his book and ran his hand through his hair.

“Not too bad, I checked on him about half an hour ago, he was moaning pretty bad, likely has a bit of an infection” George nodded

“Open it up” he said, Norm hopped up and jingled a few keys from his pocket before finding the right one and unlocked the door.

The room inside was completely steel, there was a sickly green magic light that flickered and blinked in the ceiling as if it were always on the verge of going out. The room was notably cold, there was no furniture, no privy, nothing. It appeared that some excrement lay in the far corner, though the corresponding urine slid and pooled across the perfectly level floor adding a rank order to the room. In the other far corner curled in a ball in a pool of his own urine was a naked pudgy dactyl. He was missing an ear and was bruised and cut in many places, most notably on the bottoms of his feet.

“Val, Lee-Sun, I would like you to meet Dorbid; Dorbid I have some friends that so wish to make your acquaintance” the Dactyl looked up with nothing but fear in his eyes.

“Kill me, please kill me” Dorbid murmured eyes wild and crazed. George knelt beside the smelly little creature and whispered in calm sympathetic tone,

“Soon Dorbid, soon… but only after my friends are satisfied that you’ve told them everything you know… and remember Dorbid, please don’t forget that if you lie… you will live a very long, long time” George’s tone was sinister for the final threat. But when he turned to the White Ravens as he stood dusting off his hands he had his usual good natured grin on his face and his tone was friendly once more. “I think you will find him in a talkative mood, but if you find your having trouble please feel free to call on Norm, he will see to it you get what you need.

“uh… thanks” Val said a little awkwardly. George grinned clapping him on the shoulder

“Anything for a friend” he said amiably. As he left the room he paused turning back to the two investigators “When you are truly finished with Dorbid there, please let Norm know… we have a ‘special’ disposal method planned.” The two investigators once more nodded and the Rogue left them with their ‘work’.

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LOVE IS STRANGE PT 1

27th of Ready’reat – Titans Chair – Outside of Rehume – 1:04pm

Soshana sat laughing at her old friend, he had just finished showing a ‘pop up’ practicing on land while he waited for his new board to finish construction. Prometheus stretched and took his seat.

“Well there little Sosh, seeing a tarnished fellow like myself fight imaginary ankle biters isn’t the reason you came up here today; your wound so tight you seem prime to pop… what’s rustin her buzz little lady?” his voice carried with an easy tone down to her. She ran her rand through her long hair

“Well… things changed while I was out in the verse… I saw things, things that I never even imagined could exist”

“That’s not a bad thing Little Sosh, an open mind lets the universe better inform our actions” the Titan said reaching down for his barrel of wine and taking a deep swig.

“Well… that’s not all, I think while I was out there… I think I may have… I may have… I may have fallen in love” her last notes sounded almost disappointed. The boom of the tians laughter filled the valley

“Out little Sosh in love? That’s great news!” he said as he scooped her up in his jubilance

“You’re not disappointed?” she asked sniffling

“Disappointed? Oh Sosh… Ours is a relationship that cannot be defined by time, numbers places or locations… you are young and in love… two things that are far too rare… enjoy it”

“I don’t even know if he loves me back… It was just a night and we didn’t really talk about it after”

“Oh Sosh, Sosh, Sosh…” he said, standing and beginning to walk towards the river crews, let me tell you something about love” it was rare for the titan to use his magic, it often occurred more from happenstance than from his specific trying, Titans were like no other casters in regards to the fact that they just willed reality to shift, and often it did for them. A strange noise camp from Rehume as suddenly all the bells in all the churches began to ring, but began to ring to specific times. Soshana was amazed as the work crews, unbeknown to themselves began to dig, and grunt and hum in unison creating an odd percussion to complement the bells, the ships patrolling the moat suddenly began to row in perfect harmony with each other further complementing the growing song and then the Titan began to sing as he wondered into the valley.

Please listen to the Titans song before Continuing

As he finished his song, he settled down by the river and draped his feet into the cool water. Soshana wondered if he even noticed what had just happened… probably not. He turned to her

“So who is this fellow who’s got you feeling this way?”

“Well…” she said brushing a strand of hair behind her ear “… Raven Everlast”

To be continued

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BAYWATCH Pt 1

26th of Ready’reat – Chistles Point – Northern End of Boytano Bay – The Leaky Bottle Saloon – 11:23pm

Kayfeer Deerborn sat back nodding to the elf sitting across from him, he flashed Arthorn a smile.

“So tell we have a deal White Raven? You tell me about what happened in the fishing village of Hargoth and I’ll let you know how we’ve been faring with the House of Volgatha?"

Arthorn nodded to the Honalian Sailor that they had a deal as he reached forward for another chunk of bread and took a deep bite. Kayfeer stood “I’ll grab us another pitcher and see if the back room is open yet so we can talk, be right back” Kayfeer moved towards the bar thinking to himself, he had grown fond of the White Raven Arthorn, the two had met about eight months ago and quickly developed a friendship, both worked in the field of information, both knew what they could and could not say and what could be said and was still valuable, both made the others work much easier, it was a natural alliance.

Kayfeer couldn’t help chuckling as he ordered another pitcher of ale, it never stopped to amuse him how he often got details first, even though the Avatars and the Everlast traveled together, but if people spoke plainly he wouldn’t be paid, so he shouldn’t complain too much, he gently chided himself. A few words and some coin to the barkeep told him the room would be clear within the next five minutes, he turned to start walking back to the table surprised to see two dwarves and a heavy set dactyl standing around Arthorn and their table. Kayfeer kept moving, smoothly bringing the pitcher to another group of happy dactyls letting them know it was a bonus from their boss for a day’s hard work. He didn’t tarry with their praise, he simply moved to an unobtrusive place to listen in on the conversation developing.

“Words has it that yer one o them White Ravens… that true?” the heavy set dactyl asked. Kayfeer could see one of the dwarves standing in the blind spot of Arthorn, one to his left and the dactyl across where he had been sitting. Arthorn was not blind to the harsh tone and threatening demeanor, he maintained his calm before responding however

“Are you in need of aid?” he asked. The dactyl reached across taking the last of the bread and eating it before responding

“We are in need of getting a message to the Everlast” he said with a full mouth

“I think that can be arranged…” Arthorn said passively “…tell me the message and I’ll see what I can do” Kayfeer saw it too late, he’d been focused on the fat one, not the fellow behind. The skilled sailor new the tension and pain on Arthorns face, the pain of a knife going into ones back

“We aint partial to him, or his cronies round here, stay out of the bay!” the fat one said in a low voice as the dwarf twisted the knife before pulling it out. Arthorn slumped forward on the table as the three got up to leave. Kayfeer watched them head to the door, watched both windows to see if they turned left or right…. right. Having the direction he hurried to the table and sidled up beside Arthorn.

“You could have stopped it…” the White Raven said through gritted teeth. Kayfeer fiddled with Arthorns cloak checking the wound while he mumbled his response

“You know you can’t afford me to fight for you…” the jest fell flat “…they have some skill, scratched your spine and the wound looks poisoned… your choice, I can go after them or get you to a cleric… which do you want?” Arthorn looked to Kayfeer, and was touched that the sailor was actually giving him the option.

“go after them… but don’t dawdle on the way back” Kayfeer nodded pulling a blue vial from his pocket.

“Sip it slowly, the poison will likely make you bleed again, the potion may slow that… and I don’t need to tell you not to bring notice to yourself?” Arthorn nodded again doing his best to waive the sailor off. Kayfeer stood pulled his hood up and quickly exited the bar.

It took six blocks for him to catch up to the three; they had had two more dactyls join them and seemed to be heading to another pub not far from here. Kayfeer debated following them all the way to see who they would talk to, but he was cognizant of how long this was taking, he’d keep one for questioning. He dashed through two allies and cut out onto the street ahead of them walking under a glowing lamp creating a fine silhouette of his hooded form.

“Long way from your section of town human” one of the dwarves jeered, likely emboldened by adrenaline and his recent exploits.

“My section of town is wherever I choose to roam” he said in his gruff voice. A few of the dwarves and dactyls spread out itching for a real fight and sensing a challenge

“Boytano Bay aint for your type” another jeered. Kayfeer pulled his hood back letting the light shine clearly on his face; they could know him; he’d decided there wouldn’t be consequences to that. The fat dactyl recognized him, immediately his posture changed from command to fear and quickly he spoke

“Apologies good Bosun, we meant no disrespect; we have no quarrel with the Narwhale… your right, you and your crew roam free here in the bay… we meant no harm” the dactyls words poured over each other as he began to take tiny steps back, hearing who this was, Kayfeer Deerborn, Bosun of the Stubby Narwhale and a peer to the likes of George Cooper, the other dwarves and dactyls began to back off as well.

“No harm?” Kayfeer asked as he threw a dagger, lodging it deep into one of the dwarf’s throats. “… you have a funny way of not meaning harm… what gives you the right to perform a hit in my city?” the clustered dwarf and dactyls were wide eyed in fear, none had seen the movement from the Bosun and yet dagger had seemed to appear in their companions throat and he was just dead

“we didn’t perform a hit we….”

THLIP

The dwarves words were cut off as a dagger appeared in his throat as well, he dropped to his knees and died quickly, the Bosuns favorite poison doing its work.

“I will not be lied to. My City. You performed a hit. WHY?” his voice was shaky, Kayfeer was surprised that he was actually getting very angry, perhaps this war was taking its toll on him, perhaps he and Arthorn were better friends then he had originally considered, either way he way mad. The three dactyls had gone quiet… he’d over done it and now they were too scared to speak he gritted his teeth throwing two more daggers killing the two who had most recently joined the group, now it was him and the fat one left… at last the fat one spoke

“please don’t kill me, please” he begged. Kayfeer glared at the chubby little creature

“oh, don’t you worry about that, it won’t be me who kills you… you… get to talk to the Captain” the dactyl turned and ran screaming the whole way

“HELP, HELP HE’S GONNA KILL ME! HELP”

Kayfeer was impressed, for a chubby little fellow he could really move; he’d also stopped to grab his daggers but still, two blocks to catch him? He was getting slow. He rounded the corner to see the dactyl huffing and puffing at two guardsmen, dwarven fellows and regulars for the area

“He killed my friends… he’s insane…. He’s gonna kill me… please help” the guards turned to face the coming killer until Kayfeer stepped into the light. Quickly both guards grabbed the fat dactyl

“sorry about that Bosun, almost didn’t recognize you in this gloom” one of the dwarves said as they cuffed the dactyl and turned him over to Kayfeer.

“No problem at all private…” Kayfeer said tossing a small pouch with a hefty few coins in it “I’m afraid I will need a cleanup, two blocks back, that should cover it though” the dwarven private hefted the pouch and smiled to the Bosun.

“More than cover it sir, you have yourself a pleasant evening” the dwarf said ignoring the pleas of the dactyl

“You as well, I feel safer everyday with you fellows on the streets” and with that Kayfeer pulled a small vial and held it under the nose of the struggling dactyl, soon his pleas went still and his body slumped.

To Be Continued

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RUNE WAR PT 28

19th of Patchwall – 11:59am – Just outside Tukin

Selwyn was furious, only now had she discovered about the evacuees from the Swamp front and that Moredakka was currently evacuating the Central Command. They needed to push forward not fall back. She was preparing her troops to teleport in when she saw Sir Keaton, he was being carried on a stretcher toward a nearby med tent. She ran to him calling Eir over. The girl did not need to be told what to do as she laid her hands on the wounded knight and allowed him to breathe easier. She looked at Selwyn concerned. Keaton opened his eyes

“My Queen,” he smiled. She leaned over him wiping the blood and grime from his face “You look different?” he said in an unsteady voice

“It’s a long story Sir Keaton, one we can speak of it detail when you are better, what happened?”

“It was a trap my Queen, the whole thing, get them out, they’ll all die if you don’t… The Honalians stayed behind, they need to get out. She nodded allowing the medics to carry him to a med tent (he was still not allowed into the city). She felt a rage build in her a holy fire deep inside that needed to come out. She took two steps forward and vanished


12:02pm – Southern Swamp – Honalain Ground

Sir Vigo swore, they had not managed to get out when Moredakkas troops at ported to central… they were trapped and going to die. He looked at Caradoc one of his oldest friends, he saw his feeling reflected in his friends eyes, no words needed be said

“Give them hell boys, make it count” he called to the knights around him, they were fighting shoulder to shoulder in a small circle, the demons and aberrants flooded from all sides, there was not way out.

FLASH

The sky was flooded with a momentary white light, a women he did not know floated in the center of his circle, she was the source of this light, and shone like a newborn star

“NO ONE SHALL HINDER OUR EXITOUS WE SHALL BE FREE OF THIS INFERNAL SWAMP!” the voice was that of many thousands speaking as one. She waved her hand

FLASH

Sir Vigo blinked, they were outside of Tukin once more, people stared at them in awe… he stared in awe turning to thank the unknown women

FLASH

She was gone


19th of Patchwall – Northern Front Hill Base – 12:05pm

Arrot turned to Alana and nodded to her mouthing the words

“go now”

They had discussed it that night, she could not be killed with Shield-Breaker but it was possible to impression her and maybe they would then get the sword, a risk the line could not take… if the trenches were overwhelmed and defeat was inevitable Alana was to fight her way south into the wild lands and try and extract herself, leaving Arrot and the others to cover her retreat. The enemies numbers had swelled that morning, they had to assume everyone on the hill was now dead, and these were the victors reinforcing their demonic companions. The final rush had started an hour ago, and now it was open melee, running from trench to trench… he had no idea how many of his men were left alive, he had lucked out and found Sir Alana madly trying to protect some 60 or so dactyls. The stubborn girl shook her head and sliced through six more demons

“I won’t leave these men to die, they have earned my efforts, we will die together!” Arrot gritted his teeth but did not argue, it was near pointless anyhow, the two of them were all that kept this spot from being destroyed and if she left his life span would be mere seconds

FLASH

The sky was flooded with a momentary white light, a women he did not know floated above he and Alana, she was the source of this light, and shone like the very gates of heaven, and her power was pure divine love. Arrot began to tear up…

“by the graces of Themis, thank you”

“NO ONE SHALL HINDER OUR EXITOUS, WE SHALL BE FREE OF THESE WRETCHED HILLS!” the voice was that of many thousands speaking as one. She waved her hand making her will reality

FLASH

The men slumped as they appeared outside of Tukin

Arrot watched this happen four more times as the women would disappear and moments later reappear with a large battle weary section of the army, each time they were again bathed in white holy light.

At last she appeared once more, this time with burning siege weapons, trunks, nearly destroyed tents and a few stragglers.

“HIS WILL IS DONE” the women said and like that the light receded and she fell to the ground. Many rushed forward to catch and aid their mysterious savior.

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RUNE WAR Pt 27

19th of Patchwall – 11:52am – Central Command

Nigel struggled to flex his fingers, he could barely move. His eyes darted desperately looking to see any ally nearby, there were none. With what little breath he had left he whispered a prayer to Kelezandri and tried once more to stretch his fingers. The Death Knights anger radiated like heat. The sword began its decent with deadly accuracy

THWAMP

Nigel exhaled, he had managed to pop the latch on the trunk causing it to spill open and deflect the sword. Strahd roared in rage, the little cleric had bought himself maybe three seconds to live as the Lord of Don-Ton ripped the trunk out of the way and kicked Nigel’s uncontrolled sheepish grin off his face. Nigel rolled feeling himself pinned quickly by a Black Guard. Strahd paused a half second to strike down a demon who had thought to interfere and again stalked forth; no words of goodbyes this time, just murder in his eyes.

“RALLY LADS! WE AINT BEAT YET” came the voice of Fictuk, it sounded distant. Nigel looked about and saw what the Black Axe was calling about. Groups of dactyls, humans and trolls began to appear throughout the camp in small clusters quickly joining the battle.

“ARRRRRHHHHHHHHH!” came a feral growl “circle the wounded, center here! We are getting out of here, everyone else fall back to me!” the voice of Moredakka was unmistakable as his carried over the clash of battle. This time Nigel’s smirk was intentional

“Decision time Strahd… That will be my Avatars! Coming to save the devote… I’m willing to bet they won’t be pleased with my death” the Halfling managed to wipe the blood from his face and put on look of intensity. It only took the Death Knight two seconds to reassess the situation. He scooped up the Halfling under his arm while spinning his blade to a nearby Demon

“I have the General! He is wounded! Form up on me and get us to the extract!” he called in a voice of command. Several trolls and fresh dactyls quickly raced to form a protective circle around Strahd and his few remaining men; together they fought to Moredakka’s extract point. Nigel let himself be carried, to tell the truth he hadn’t the strength to stand anyhow, Kelezandri have given him exactly what he needed, no more, and now he was done. He slumped and allowed himself to be passed to medics, knowing that he would have to deal with Strahd later.

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RUNE WAR Pt 26

19th of Patchwall – Central Command – 11:45am

KABOOM!

Bodies flew as the sonic shock wave smashed the icy barricade to nothingness, the demons swamed through the gap

KABOOM! BOOM!

Two more shock waves blasted along the barricade, the last of the ice shattered and fell in large chunks some pinning and killing those who had crouched below it for cover.

“THE LINE IS BROKE! FORM UP AS BEST YA CAN LADS! IT’S EVERY DWARF FOR THEMSELVES NOW!” a thickly accented voice of some captain rang out as the demons swarmed in from all sides. Hundreds of tiny melees broke out across the encampment, Dwarven artillery crews battled and raced to try and get away as their siege weapons went up in flames and their honour guards were slaughtered. Strahd von Zarrovich looked up and cursed once more the infernal sun that kept so many of his minions at bay and weakened him so. his personal guard was at an all-time low, his mount long slain and now with weapon in hand he began to doubt if he would survive this day, not in many hundreds of years had he doubted his own survival… and it was all the fault of that miserable Halfling!

CRASH

Another section of ice exploded and as demons began to pour in from a new flank, diving and dodging through their line came three wild elves. The demons seemed as surprised as anyone else. One caught sight of Strahd and turned towards him, the other two forked out… one living only two more steps before being disintegrated. The elf diving towards the undead lord threw himself over a small melee between a dactyl and demon and hit the ground hard on the other side sliding on a piece of ice into Strahds inner circle. The elf climbed quickly to his feet

“General… I have urgent news” the elf said. As one of Strahds black guards stepped forward to battle a demon who was getting too close. “The Northern Front is gone… scattered… there is a Devil Legion… it bears Nefruitous personal banner… they are coming here… the Avatar of Ice is trying to slow them but she said she could only slow them… you have to get out of here!” the shock was clearly getting to the wild elf as panic set into his voice. Fury rose in Strahd as he assessed his situation, in a rage he reached down and grabbed the elf by his throat

“Nefruitous himself is upon us?!” the elf nodded as he choked and gasped “The Halfling has murdered us all!” the Death Knight in his rage sucked the life from the elf fueling himself further and dropping the empty husk on the ground. “ON ME!” he growled “I WILL SEE THE TORRENT DEAD BEFORE WE ARE DESTORYED THIS DAY!” He turned in anger pointing his finger at a few demons fighting a cluster of humans; he let forth three consecutive hell fires blasting both sides to nothingness, then he stalked letting forth the full fury of his rage, anger and auras as they fought killing anything in their way on their path to Nigel.

The Halfling was quickly found; the pathetic creature desperately swung his pitiful little mace as the enemy murdered his last remaining body guard. Strahd could see not far away that Fictuk battled a half dozen fiends, well enough occupied. A larger fiend grabbed a trunk that had been flung in one of the many explosions. He smashed the disgusting little halfwit into the ground… four more times the heavy trunk hit the Halfling until final it pinned him down. The fiend in his bloodlust leaned on the trunk and smiled in glee. Strahd stepped forward and quickly dispatched the demon being sure that his Blackguard kept the trunk pinning the cleric down.

“Strahd… what are you doing?” the Halfling gasped, still short on breath from the weight on his chest.

“The devils are upon us you impetuous whelp! None shall survive this, not I and certainly not you… I will avenge myself before I depart”

“Strahd… don’t” the Halfling coughed as the Black Guard leaned heavier into the desk. The Death Knight’s eyes blazed with the hellish fires of hate.

“Where is your great god now… you are weak… “ he held his blade aloft “I claim not only your life foolish cleric, but your soul” the Soul Reaper glinted in the midday sun as it charged down for the Halflings neck.

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RUNE WAR PT 25

19th of Patchwall – Tukin – 9:15am

Eir took one look at the blotchy faced human woman standing before her, the girl’s heart melted

“Oh you poor thing, come here” she reached forward and enveloped Selwyn into a warm embrace, quickly pulling her into her home. In moments Selwyn was on the sofa wrapped in a blanket while Eir practically danced into the kitchen pouring water into the kettle and stoking the stove for tea. Selwyn couldn’t help but sniffle this had been the first contact she had had with anyone, and it went a long way to making her feel better. She also couldn’t help but feel some jealousness at Eirs natural grace and comfort with her body. Things had not gone well so far the Shields standing in the hall outside her room had not recognized her at first, and it had taken some convincing that she was indeed herself, a harder feat still as she discovered she no longer understood their native dwarven tongue and needed to talk in common, a third language for them. Thank Gabrielle that they lived in a land where the truly strange happened often, they had summoned a knight, Sir Gales, who quickly asked questions. He was very concerned but understood her need to get to Eir and the church. Now here she sat in Eir and Alana’s cozy little cottage accepting tea and telling Eir what had happened. “…and then I came here” she finished taking a sip of her tea. Eir looked at her new friend, and smiled “Cheer up Selwyn, being human has its perks, like our ability to look on the bright side of things” the words fell flat. But that did not seem to stop the cleric “Gabrielle has a plan for you, you know he loves you, he has spoken with you directly, you just have to believe that this is all part of it… and besides you have Avatar powers now, isn’t that what you wanted?” Selwyn shook her head at the optimist “I have no powers, maybe once I changed he found me unworthy, or maybe the whole thing was a test to see if I would leave, and I wasn’t supposed to, what if I have made a terrible mistake?” she began to sniffle, she couldn’t help it, she seemed to feel everything so much more than she ever had before, emotions seemed so much bigger and she wasn’t used to it, everything seemed to be more, as if it had all been diluted before. “Well, have you asked him?” Eir inquired. Selwyn dropped her gaze “I cannot speak to Gabrielle anymore Eir…” Eir stood up in a huff “No offense Selwyn, but that’s ridiculous, anyone in our church and speak to Gabrielle anytime they want” Selwyn looked up a gleam of hope coming to her “Really? How?” “We shall go to his home and you can ask him your questions. Come on” she stood taking the blanket from Selwyns shoulders and pulled her to her feet. “His home? Selwyn murmured as they walked from the cottage, she supposed she could still cast gate, would he allow her to enter? Would they even speak to her at the Heavenly Gates? She supposed it was worth a try, they did not walk far as they entered the church “We should leave from here?” she asked Eir, the cleric looked at her quizzically “We are here” She said. Selwyn looked around as Eir continued to speak “This is his home on our realm, sit with me and we will pray” Selwyn had prayed before, but usually she did it floating in the air, and often it was considered more a communion than prayer as she often heard her Lords voice and he advised her on what to do. She knelt with Eir before the small alter and the two sat silently for some time… eventually after half an hour Selwyn opened her eyes

“I don’t hear him, he is not speaking to me” Eir looked over at her

“The Lord of Light rarely speaks with words to us, it is said his mind is too vast for us to comprehend…” Selwyn had a sudden fear that perhaps her brain had shrunk, she had never had trouble understanding Gabrielle’s words before, she looked at Eir and decided not to voice these fears “… It is about feelings now Selwyn, when you pray you feel a warmth a connection, and when you do what is right you will feel good about it, you have to have faith to encourage these feelings and interpret them, it takes time, devotion and study to truly understand your relationship with a god, and longer still to manifest his will into concrete action, that is what clerics and paladins are, the results of years of pious training and study.” Eir seemed so perfectly at peace as she spoke these words.

“How will I even know if the feelings are mine or his?” Selwyn asked

“Faith” Eir replied. “Sit and be comfortable Selwyn, concentrate on your past, on your journey, how everything you have done and every decision you have made has brought you here. You must find out how you truly resonate with Gabrielle. I myself tend to resonate most deeply with his endless compassion, his empathy for all living creatures, his love and desire to heal the sick and wounded and his boundless ability to forgive. Dig deep Selwyn, who is Gabrielle to you, and do you truly love him, know him and accept him above all others”

Selwyn wiped her brow and contemplated this, she had never thought about, Gabrielle was powerful and kind, he was her god, but did she love him, did she truly know him. She cast her mind back throughout her life, looking for synergies.

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At first she felt nothing, she sat on the cushion on a cold stone floor in a large stone room beside Eir. She took a deep breath and tried to remove those thoughts from her mind and cast her memory back to her youth.

Jarl Bardr Geirason she could still picture him wearing his mantel of furs, his piercing eyes and bald head, he was a giant of a man, in spirit and action. He had reared her, had taught her his ways, taught her about what was right and what was wrong. He had left his home to free children from the Mines on Macadamia. He had fought hard against the oppressive nature of the church and fought harder to free her and her mother from the Devils and Demons. Bardr never questioned right from wrong, he knew it, breathed it, and lived it. It didn’t matter who stood in his way he would not bow or be stopped.

She remembered the Frost Giants and the slaves they kept, the cruel way they had chained creatures and tortured them, the place she had met her husband.

She recalled the Dactyl slaves; slaves they could not possibly leave in the past to freeze and die… she knew that it didn’t matter if they all died in the war, at least they had had the chance to fight for their freedom, to live as free proud people instead of skulking like animals in dark caves and mines.

She remembered the ferociousness of the battle of High Port, the rights to Worship the Elemental Lords, the Rights for Women to Rule among the Honalians, the Rights for Trolls to be treated as people instead of monsters, the Rights for the Crymeery not to live under the thumb of Strahd…

The rights for the Dwarves of the South not to be wiped out, their Right to Exist. She felt something now a burning glow in her, she felt the need to stand and she heard herself speak, but not in her voice, there was a power far beyond her coursing through her, the words were not hers, but they were words that needed to be said

“ARGYLE…” she but spoke and yet still her voice boomed and echoed across the city, perhaps farther “… WE CANNOT BE CONSUMED BY OUR PETTY DIFFERENCES ANY MORE, WE WILL BE UNITED IN OUR COMMON INTEREST, PERHAPS IT IS FATE THAT IT IS THE MONTH OF PATCHWALL AGAIN, AND LIKE THE TALIB WARS OF OLD WE WILL ONCE AGAIN BE FIGHTING FOR OUR FREEDOM. BUT NOT FROM TYRANNY OR OPPRESSION FROM A NECROMANCER BUT FROM ANNIHILATION. WE ARE FIGHTING FOR OUR RIGHT TO LIVE… TO EXIST. AND SHOULD WE WIN THE DAY… THAT DAY WILL BECOME A BINDING HOLIDAY, A DAY WHERE ARGYLE DECLARED IN ONE STRONG VOICE… WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT! WE WILL NOT VANISH WITHOUT A FIGHT! WE’RE GOING TO LIVE ON! WE’RE GOING TO SURVIVE! FOR TODAY WE RECLAIM OUR FREEDOM!”

She opened her eyes and saw Eir looking at her with awe; she looked down seeing her body held aloft by a radiating powerful glow of brilliant white light. She began to float from the ground as the light shown down from on high… she had more to say

“I AM BORN ANEW ON THIS DAY! I AM HIS AVATAR! I AM THE AGENT OF HITHILIUM THE WILL MADE FLESH OF GABRIELLE, I AM FREEDOM!”

She remained aloft for a few moments longer and then slowly lowered to the ground as she felt the divine energy leave her. She was mortal once more although not all of the energy left her; she was back. Selwyn Sudari Giant-Slayer, Avatar of Freedom and Liberty.

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